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Bedtimes / 30 Nov 2015 / by James

How much sleep children need (and how to make sure they get it)

Sleep - some young kids will do everything in their power to avoid it, yet as soon as they reach the teenage years getting them out of bed on time can seem like trying to wake the dead. Among all the quirks of parenthood, making sure little ones spend the right amount of time in the land of nod- even if they protest - is essential.


How much?

Young babies will of course need a lot more sleep than a child of a few years, and as they get older they'll get less likely to need a nap in the daytime too. On the NHS website, the Millpond Children's Sleep Clinic recommends children aged one should have around 11 hours at night, and just over a couple of hours in the daytime. The amount of time children need to nap for each day decreases as they age, but the advice states that between the ages of one and five, 11 hours a night is about right.


Getting the routine right

The key to getting the right amount of sleep is in the routine. This is not only great for your kids, it's great for you too. If you know the children will be off to bed by 7pm, it means you can plan a little 'me time' into your day too.

Spend a little time on an evening with your little ones simply relaxing and winding down for bed. You can do this by reading together, watching half an hour of a nice soothing program, or having a warm bath.

Advice from Supernanny recommends that while you're helping your little ones wind down for bed, try to give them gentle reminders of what's happening, kind of like a ten minute notice that bedtime's coming up next. As some children don't like the idea of being left to go to sleep, this will help them prepare for what's happening, all the while feeling reassured by you.


When it's time to rise and shine

Getting children up and dressed on a morning, particularly when they're heading off for school, can be challenging. One time-saver is to get as much organised the night before as possible, so that's the P.E kit, the packed lunch and the school bag already ticked off the To-Do list. Parenting website has some great advice, including making a chart of all the morning's tasks so your little ones can keep on top of things themselves, and see their progress!

If you've got younger children, and the luxurious experience that is a lie-in is just a glimmer of a distant memory, you may be familiar with the issue of getting the kids to actually stay in bed in the mornings. With this, it's often a good idea to work backwards. Think about what time you'd like them to be up in the mornings, and count back the 11 - 12 hours of sleep they need and adjust their bedtime accordingly. This takes a bit of practice, especially as your mid-week routine may be different to the weekends. You can also encourage a little quiet playtime in their bedrooms at the weekends too, giving you time to recuperate before they come bounding into your room for a morning cuddle.